Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Liberal Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Michelle Maldonado

Second Committee Member

Eugene Clasby

Third Committee Member

George Wilson


Scholars often refer to Maximón, the modern Mayan deity, as a trickster. To date, there has been little research to support this title. The author of this thesis surveys existing research on Maximón's history and roles, along with scholarly literature on the nature of the trickster character, to test whether he is, in fact, a trickster. It is determined that Maximón is a descendent of the ancient Mayan gods, actively worshipped today by some in the highlands of Guatemala as part of a blended "Folk Catholicism," a trickster who has survived the religion of the conquering Spanish by shift shaping, and a hero in the tradition of Hunahpu and Xbalanque. These roles culminate during Semana Santa, when Maximón plays Judas Iscariot in the Passion of Christ. The findings of this research will help future scholars understand Maximón's purpose in Guatemalan Highland culture and religion, as both he and they face life on a shrinking planet.


Maximon; trickster; shapeshifting; Guatemala; cofradia; telinel